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Sliding-scale, upcycled and gender-inclusive: Victoria shop creates accessible retail space

There are no gender or sexuality expectations at QThreadz
QThreadz co-founder Mady Harber runs a pop-up shop of their normally online upcycled, gender-inclusive clothing store in Royal Athletic Park. (Courtesy of Mady Harber)

When it comes to making fashion inclusive and accessible, a Victoria upcycled clothing shop is far ahead of the retail standard.

Scrolling through the QThreadz Instagram page, tie-dye crop tops, floral kimonos and track suits are easily rocked by folks of varying genders and body sizes. The used clothing space is one free from the retail binary of men’s and women’s clothing sections.

“We’re trying to create a space where there are no gender or sexuality expectations around what we’re supposed to wear,” co-founder Mady Harber said. Her and her fellow founder are usually the ones modelling the items while the pandemic continues, but they hope to include even more body types in the near future.

“We want people to see themselves reflected in the clothing we’re selling,” Harber said.

Mady Harber, co-founder of QThreadz, said she has a passion for sustainable fashion and inclusivity. (Courtesy of Mady Harber)

Clicking on an individual item, another inclusive aspect of QThreadz’ business model is revealed – sliding-scale pricing. Harber works as a clinical social worker and therapist by day and knows from implementing flexible pricing there that it can increase accessibility.

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Perhaps the most important offering of the online shop, though, is its pay-what-you-can binder program. Binders and compression vests are often used by people transitioning from one gender to another, but they can be expensive to buy new, Harber said.

“It’s a life-saving piece of clothing,” she emphasized. So, whatever people can afford is what they pay. Harber said they’ve even managed to send a couple gently-used binders to people in Ireland and India who may have otherwise had a hard time accessing one.

QThreadz donates 10 per cent of all its regular sales and 50 per cent of its binder sales back into the queer community.

Harber and her partner launched the business last November, beginning with clothing of their own, donations from friends and some thrifted finds. It’s a passion project, in that they love fashion, clothing and the sustainability of upcycling old items, but from the get-go the most important part for both has been inclusivity.

“It’s about pure expression and letting people know they’re safe to buy whatever they want from us,” Harber said.

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She hinted about an upcoming project that will expand support for the queer community even further, but couldn’t provide details as of yet.

“We want to continue to build a space where folks can talk about gender expression in clothing. We’re breaking down those boxes and binaries.”

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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